Continued from: Traveling with William Ernest…
Well, I knew right away and was delighted to find out, that this beautiful estancia, my friends, is NOT a resort. What a relief! I appreciated the opportunity of getting to know my horse and his/ her personality and quirks. Mine was in training to get over feelings of anxiousness while being saddled and that just turns me on. I love helping horses with people problems. Not to get into training here…but horses are pretty much clean slates when they are born. Problems develop as they have more and more contact with people. I really believe there are introverts and extroverts in the horse world. Because of that, some are going to react differently to a stimuli than another will.
So, okay, anyway….I like a challenge and loved helping this horse with a very minor issue. We bonded.
Tina and I tried to help in the kitchen but you know how it is in a well run atmosphere…we were just getting in the way and the food was so amazing…I didn’t want to mess anything up. The staff genuinely liked doing things for the guests and we didn’t want to ruin that for them! But really, they would ask and if we wanted to do it ourselves…we usually got to.
Take the milkcow, for instance. How sweet was it that we got to meet the young lady who was responsible for the milkcow, one morning at the cow’s pen, to learn the cow’s routine and how to milk her for the morning’s cream. Joined by the kitty supervisors, we watched as she maneuvered the calf out of the way, cleaned her teats and then gave her something to munch on while Tina and I fumbled around “back there” with her udder. Sweet, patient soul, she gave us enough milk for cereal, coffee and other amazing creations that would later appear from the kitchen.
We began to learn our way around the estancia horseback, went on excursions to bring the other horses in from faraway pastures in the hills, explored the river and its fridgid waters, ate picnics and generally had a blast while we prepared for our long distance trip that was scheduled in the next couple of days. I’m sure they were checking us out to see if we could really ride like we said we could. That’s okay. I know from experience, clients sometimes have a different view of themselves as riders than what someone responsible for them will see.
Finally, the day came and we were up early to assist in the packing of the big canvas packs on either side of the mules. We learned about the diamond hitch knots, how to balance the packs correctly, ect.
One of the mules was an old hand and stood patiently while the other two were youngsters just learning what their jobs were. There was some hopping around and balking at first but eventually every equine and rider got lined out and we were on our way, winding like a giant caterpillar through the trees at the base of the mountains, slowly climbing into the foothills and finally, up into the tall and majestic Andes where the wind blew dirt and sand against our exposed skin like a sandblaster.
Ducking our heads to take breaths under our armpits, now and then we would catch a glimpse of each other struggling against the constant gusts. Our horses had their heads down and eyelids half closed to protect their eyes. Parts of the trail were so narrow, rocks would dislodge from our passing and tumble down the side of the cliff. Tina and I would just look at each other and laugh. It was too amazing to be scared and neither of us wanted to miss a minute of it. After all…we were all in it together. Horses, mules, guides and riders, who would complain?
Through all of my adventures, the best ones were when I was a little uncomfortable. Getting momentarily lost in the Mara of Kenya, changing a flat tire while watching out for lions in Tsavo, hiking the Inca Trail, looking for a safe place to sleep while walking through Malaga, Spain, riding dirtbikes into small villages deep in Mexico…coming through to the other side of something…that is the true sweet spot for me. These are the trips I want to take now, while I am physically able. With six hours still to go before we get to our sleeping spot, the anticipation of this adventure, not knowing what lies at the end of the trail…for me? That is how I like to laugh and live. Sharing it with a new friend was icing on the cake.
Next: Setting up camp, staking horses, waking up to ice